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Ken Borland

Titans coast to T20 title 0

Posted on April 02, 2012 by Ken

A top-class spell by Faf du Plessis and a double-strike up front by Albie Morkel led the Nashua Titans to a comfortable 45-run victory over the bizhub Highveld Lions in the MiWay T20 Challenge final at the BidVest Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday.


The two all-rounders shared seven wickets between them as the Lions crumbled to 142 all out after the Titans’ powerful middle-order batsmen had seen them to 187 for six.

The Lions beat the Titans in both their round-robin matches this season and must have fancied their chances of chasing 188 in good batting conditions. But this time they danced to the tune of the Titans bowlers as they lost three wickets in the first four overs and then another three in the space of nine balls midway through their innings.

Titans coach Matthew Maynard may have swum against the tide by leaving out all of his international stars, but his team remained a slick, efficient outfit on the field as they hunted down their second trophy of the summer after their success in the SuperSport Series.

Lions youngsters Jonathan Vandiar (0) and Quinton de Kock (17) could both perhaps be accused of going too hard too early as they both skied the ball into the outfield to be caught.

The dangerous De Kock had already hit two fours and a six off 10 balls but, with his captain Alviro Petersen falling just three balls previously for five as he edged Morkel and was brilliantly caught by Heino Kuhn standing up, he then tried a lofted drive and gave the Titans another wicket.

It was also another fine catch, Eden Links judging the steepler to perfection as he ran from mid-off to behind the bowler.

The Lions were 24 for three after four overs, but Neil McKenzie and Jean Symes provided a brief surge of runs as they added 50 off 34 balls.

But the home crowd’s cheers were soon silenced as leg-spinner Du Plessis came on in the 10th over.

His third delivery was the only one that misbehaved all day on another excellent Chris Scott pitch, keeping low to bowl Symes for 25 off 20 balls as the left-hander attempted a pull shot.

Dwaine Pretorius’s stay was brief. He hit his first ball from Du Plessis straight back over the bowler’s head for six and then tried the same shot two balls later, but was surprised by the googly and bowled middle stump.

McKenzie fell six balls later, bowled off the pad for 24 off 19 balls by a quicker delivery from left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe that went straight on, meaning there were two new batsmen at the crease with the Lions needing a daunting 106 off nine overs.

Du Plessis carried on his destructive business by removing the last two hopes of the Lions – having Chris Morris caught by a diving Alfonso Thomas for 18 and then accepting a simple return catch from Thami Tsolekile (14). It left Du Plessis with brilliant figures of 4-24 from his four overs and the bowling award.

There was some late resistance from Aaron Phangiso (19 not out) before Morkel (3-28) had Ethan O’Reilly (7) caught behind by Kuhn off a bouncer to claim the Lions’ final wicket in the penultimate over.


Farhaan Behardien had hit the ball high and handsome in the closing overs to lift the Titans to 187 for six and earning himself the batting award in the process.

Behardien, who scored an unbeaten 20 off 11 balls on Friday night on his international debut, continued to court the national selectors for a place in South Africa’s T20 World Cup squad as his brilliant 42 not out off 26 balls gave the Titans a competitive total after they had been a dodgy 112 for five in the 14th over.

The Titans were sent in to bat and openers Henry Davids and Kuhn did a fine job of seeing them off to a good, fast start as they added 43 runs in three-and-a-half overs.

There had been some speculation that the Titans management would drop Davids for returning international Jacques Rudolph, but the former Bolander repaid their faith as he slashed 27 runs off 12 balls, with five fours and a six, hitting the ball beautifully through the off side.

The Lions were desperate for a breakthrough and all-rounder Morris, who has very much been their talisman this year, topping the SuperSport impact ratings, did the job by bowling Davids with the assistance of a deflection off his back pad-flap.

The Lions, with superb team-work between their focused bowlers and lively fielders, especially on the boundary, then kept chipping away as the Titans lost regular wickets.

Pakistan international Sohail Tanveer had Kuhn caught behind for 14 in the next over, and left-arm spinner Phangiso, playing against his former team, had Van der Merwe (7) well-caught by Symes on the deep midwicket boundary.

Du Plessis and Martin van Jaarsveld began to dominate in a fourth-wicket stand of 29 off 25 balls, but Morris then took a brilliant outfield catch, running in from cow corner and diving forward, to dismiss Du Plessis for 22 off a Pretorius full toss.

Captain Van Jaarsveld scored an impressive 32 off 21 balls but then drove Phangiso to Morris at deep extra cover.

The Titans had plans to dominate the 28-year-old Phangiso, but he certainly won his personal battle against his former teammates by finishing with outstanding figures of 2-14 in his four overs.

Van Jaarsveld was out midway through the 14th over and Behardien then dominated the last six overs as he slammed two fours and two sixes, the extra cover region once again being one of his main targets.

The Lions were badly disrupted by Dirk Nannes having to pull out with a hamstring strain and his replacement, O’Reilly, who has not played since the match against the Knights on March 7, had a torrid time.

Having conceded 31 runs in two overs against the Davids onslaught up front, O’Reilly returned to bowl the 16th over and was taken for 14 more runs by Behardien and the in-form Morkel.

Behardien and Morkel did the business in the closing overs as they added 42 off 27 balls; the left-hander fell to Tanveer in the 18th over for 21 off 15 balls, but Behardien batted through to the end, hitting a wonderful six over extra cover off the Pakistani in the final over.

David Wiese, another who had international rivals for his place, showed his big-hitting ability with 14 not out off seven balls, but it was the composure and brilliance of Behardien that carried the Titans to their highest total this season and the best against the Lions.

Phangiso was the obvious bowling hero for the Lions, with Tanveer, Morris and Pretorius the other wicket-takers, but all at a cost of more than nine runs an over.

Titans players are shining lights – Maynard 0

Posted on March 30, 2012 by Ken

Nashua Titans coach Matthew Maynard said his players’ dedication and ability to rise to the occasion had been the shining lights of their MiWay T20 Challenge campaign that culminates in the final against the bizhub Highveld Lions at the Wanderers on Sunday.

“The intensity in practice has been sensational, as good as I’ve come across, and I’m delighted that they’ve been rewarded for their efforts. Trophies are what is expected in professional sport and I’ve been blessed with a very good squad. Managing the guys who’ve been away and come back is always a challenge, but when Faf du Plessis and Jacques Rudolph have come back, they’ve been highly motivated to succeed.

“It’s been an incredible year. Ever since I arrived from a foreign land, I’ve felt so welcome. The first phase was getting to know the players and the first thing that struck me was how driven they are. I just had to create an environment for them to thrive in, I’m very much an empowering coach, leaving the onus on them. The players have been absolutely fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for more as a coach in terms of how they’ve gone about their work,” Maynard said.

The Titans reached the final in the most dramatic circumstances at SuperSport Park last weekend, after they seemed to have once again wrecked their chances with a poor batting display. But Farhaan Behardien pushed them close and Alfonso Thomas hit the last ball of the 20 overs for six to force a Super Over decider, in which he and Behardien once again shone.

“We’ve got through some tight situations this season, starting in Paarl in the SuperSport Series when we had a very difficult chase and Albie Morkel made an unbeaten half-century. That was a massive defining moment and then we prepared a filthy green pitch against the Dolphins because we had to win outright, but we lost the toss and had to bat first and Heino Kuhn smacked 128 to put them on the back foot and Faf then scored 157 to get us plenty of bonus points.

“And then it was an incredible way to reach the T20 final and we’ve had to let it sink in. But this is a great bunch of players, they’re very self-motivated and there’s a lovely balance between those who have won before and the youngsters. They’ve done the key things right in the tight games,” Maynard said.

During their years of promising much but eventually failing at the final hurdle in T20 cricket, the Titans were generally fast out of the blocks before fading at the business end of the tournament. But this season, they have slowly built their way to peak form ahead of the crucial final two matches, winning their last four games.

The Titans now look such a settled, in-form and slick unit that it seems national stars AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel, Jacques Rudolph and Marchant de Lange will be left on the sidelines for Friday’s final.

“I will need to sit down with them and see how fatigued and motivated they are. It’s a very tough call, because it affects the balance of the side, but it’s all about how motivated they are to play. It can also be hard on them because the levels of expectation will be very high, but they’ll be fatigued after a long tour and a long flight. You only need to be 2% off your best to not be able to perform in a final,” Maynard said.

South African captain Graeme Smith was showing the effects of that long flight when he arrived back in Johannesburg late on Wednesday afternoon and he said it was a very tough ask for his team-mates to play on Sunday.

“I feel like I’ve been flying for four days, so I feel for the guys playing on Sunday. Your sleep patterns are a mess and it’s not just about game day, but also the training beforehand. It took us time to find our feet when we flew to New Zealand, about seven or eight days,” Smith said.

There has been speculation that the Titans played their “final” in their thrilling qualifying playoff against the Knights, but Maynard said their focus will be firmly on Sunday’s actual final.

“For every franchise, first-class team in England, state in Australia, New Zealand or the West Indies, it’s exactly the same thing, it’s our version of Champions League football to qualify and play against the best in the world. You don’t get that opportunity very often and financially, it’s obviously a massive boost for the union.

“But we won’t be relaxing, there are a couple of new T20 Proteas [Behardien and Du Plessis] who have a lot to prove, and winning the final would be the cherry on top of the cake,” Maynard said.

Nosworthy assures fans of Lions’ focus 0

Posted on March 29, 2012 by Ken

Coach Dave Nosworthy went out of his way on Wednesday to assure bizhub Highveld Lions fans that his team are not satisfied with merely qualifying for the Champions League; instead, there is a great hunger in the side to win Sunday’s MiWay T20 Challenge final against the Nashua Titans at the Wanderers.

The Lions topped the round-robin log to qualify for the lucrative Champions League for the second time in three seasons, but Nosworthy said this time they are determined to go one better and win the final. In 2009/10, the Lions were hammered by 82 runs by the Eastern Cape Warriors in the final.

“We’ve learnt a lesson from the previous season we qualified for the Champions League, when we rode the honeymoon for too long. Two years ago at St George’s Park, it was a big honeymoon for us and we relaxed mentally. There’s a totally different vibe in the side now and the most important thing for them is the final. The Champions League is great, but the guys are desperate to get over the line on Sunday and will be right up for the game,” Nosworthy said at the Wanderers on Wednesday.

The Lions have not played a full match in the last fortnight, bad weather causing both their games against the Sunfoil Dolphins and the New Age Impi to be abandoned, but the loss of momentum has been partially offset by the opportunity to refocus after the joy of qualifying in first place.

“The emotions have been allowed to come off that massive high and we were out in the middle yesterday, regaining any lost momentum with a middle practice where we set different scenarios. So our preparations are on track,” Nosworthy said.

Nosworthy managed to arrest the decline in confidence in the side after a miserable One-Day Cup campaign at the end of last year in which the Lions finished bottom of the log after winning just two of their 10 games.

“There’s a lot of belief in the side and a balance between the experienced players who have won stuff before and the exuberance of youth. The team chemistry has been one of the key things and when games have gone down to the wire, we’ve had that belief. We’ve stuck to our game plans and kept to our good habits,” Nosworthy said.

The former Titans coach confirmed that he will definitely be making use of the services of Alviro Petersen, who returned from New Zealand with the national team on Wednesday afternoon. While the opening batsman is obviously in form and is a proven limited-overs performer, there is always the risk of disruption to the side, especially since Petersen has been in test-match mode for the last three weeks.

“Alviro will come straight back into the team as captain. He was here for the first four matches and the issues are more if you change four or five players, which changes the whole dynamic. But through this season, Alviro has been more with us than anywhere else and everyone’s more than comfortable with him coming back.

“The players all know his plans and the relationship between him and Thami Tsolekile [the previous captain] is crucial. It is brilliant, they are good mates, so Alviro comes back, he has always been part of us,” Nosworthy said.

Titans clinch victory in a super over 2

Posted on March 26, 2012 by Ken

The Nashua Titans had middle-order dasher Farhaan Behardien and pace bowler cum late hitter Alfonso Thomas to thank as they beat the Chevrolet Knights by 13 runs in a super over in their MiWay T20 Challenge qualifying playoff at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday.

The victory not only sees the Titans advance to the final against the bizhub Highveld Lions next weekend at the Wanderers, but also gains them an entry into the financial bonanza that is the Champions League.

The Titans were chasing a moderate 145 for victory and were yet again facing charges of slipping at the final hurdle as they crashed to 67 for five before Behardien (37) and Albie Morkel (25) took them within sight of victory, only for a lower-order collapse to leave them needing 13 runs off the final over to win.

Thomas missed the first three balls of left-armer Jandre Coetzee’s over, launched the fourth over wide long-on for six, missed the fifth again and then hammered the final ball for six over midwicket to secure an extraordinary tie and the super over.

The Titans batted first in the super over and notched 19 runs off Johan van der Wath, including a six and a four by Behardien, both swashbuckling strokes through extra cover.

Thomas, who has played 133 T20 matches for five different franchises, is as well-versed in the dark arts of T20 cricket as anyone and has the composure and smarts to pull off the biggest swindles on the field. Having done it with the bat, he then kept the Knights duo of Morne van Wyk and Rilee Rossouw to just six runs in their super over.

In a match of many twists and turns, Van der Wath, still one of the best bowlers in the country, had seemingly won the game for the Knights as his new-ball burst of 3-15 reduced the Titans to 29 for four.

Ryan McLaren, another bowling all-rounder who should still be in the international picture, made the initial breakthrough with the scalp of Henry Davids for a duck in a maiden first over.

Van der Wath bowled the other opener, Heino Kuhn, for 12 when the batsman missed a pull at a fullish delivery, before the fiery pace bowler produced a top-class third over that included a double-strike.

Roelof van der Merwe (10) miscued a lofted drive to deep mid-on and, two balls later, Faf du Plessis (6) edged a full away-swinger to give a catch to wicketkeeper Van Wyk and a crucial breakthrough for the visitors.

Martin van Jaarsveld (24) and Behardien added 38 off 30 balls to steady the innings and Behardien and Morkel had tilted the balance back in the Titans’ favour with their stand of 53 off 43 deliveries that left them needing 26 runs off the last three overs.

But the Titans suffered another sad collapse as they lost three wickets for 13 runs in the next two overs, all three of them weak dismissals.

Facing the slow seam of Coetzee, Morkel skied a full toss to deep midwicket, where Aubrey Swanepoel had to latch on to a steepling catch. The big-hitting left-hander hung his head as soon as he hit the ball, departing the scene after hammering two sixes off 21 balls.

David Wiese fell for a single, plonking the ball straight down long-on’s throat, Coetzee ending his penultimate over with figures of 3-13.


Behardien then fell with 14 required off seven balls, depositing a low full toss in the hands of long-off, Van der Wath finishing with outstanding figures of 4-24.


Coetzee then bowled the final over with the Titans needing 13 to win and 12 to tie, and Thomas swung and missed at the first three balls, and the penultimate delivery. But balls four and six were in the slot and Thomas, who is not available for South Africa and classified as a white player due to CSA shenanigans, duly put them away for maximums.

The Titans were on fire in the field and accurate with the ball as they restricted the Knights to 144 for six

The Knights, having been sent into bat because the Titans prefer chasing on their home turf, were on their knees on 89 for five after 13 overs, but McLaren stuck around long enough to provide a decent finish to the innings with his great effort of 42 not out off 28 balls.

The early pressure on the Knights came from the fielders, not the bowlers, as the first three wickets fell to superb catches.

The free-scoring Rilee Rossouw had blazed his way to 16 off 10 balls when he swung Ethy Mbhalati low and flat to the deep square-leg boundary, but Van der Merwe came haring around and dived to take a super catch. On any other day, it would have been the catch-of-the-match, but Morkel stole the limelight with two even better efforts of his own.

Thomas had just come back on from the West Lane End when Van Wyk (10) mistimed a drive off the bottom of the bat and Morkel, on the circle at deep mid-on, dived to his left to take a great catch.

The Knights were just starting to get back on top again as Reeza Hendricks and Dean Elgar added 46 for the third wicket off 40 balls, and the left-handed Elgar must have felt he had collected a nice Christmas present boundary when he bashed left-arm spinner Van der Merwe straight down the ground. But that was before the advent of the flying Morkel, who ran round from long-on and dived full-length to take a miraculous one-handed catch just inside the boundary rope.

The sensational catch meant Elgar was out for a composed 17, and a top-class delivery from off-spinner Eden Links then accounted for Hendricks three balls later.

Hendricks, a fine young talent, had scored a polished 35 off 30 balls when Links ripped a delivery from outside off stump into his leg-stump to beat a drive.

The outlook looked even more gloomy for the Knights when Ryan Bailey (6) was incorrectly given out lbw sweeping at leg-spinner Du Plessis, having bottom-edged the ball into his pad.

Not even a sixth-wicket stand of 47 off 38 balls between McLaren and Werner Coetsee (15) could dampen the confident, expectant atmosphere at SuperSport Park, with wicketkeeper Kuhn pulling off a sharp stumping to dismiss Coetsee and give Van der Merwe his second wicket.

Van der Merwe finished with 2-39, but fellow spinner Links was the best of the Titans bowlers with 1-20 in his four overs.

The consistent Thomas bowled well to finish with 1-27, while Mbhalati took 1-11 in two overs with the newish ball.

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